Subject: UNMIT Daily Media Review 31 August 2006
Daily Media Review Thursday, 31 August 2006
NATIONAL MEDIA REPORTS
57 Prisoners Escape
Major Alfredo Reinado, together with 56 inmates escaped from prison on Sunday during family visiting hours. A prisoner guard who refused to be named said the incident occurred while prisoners were busy talking with their relatives and the guards could not act because they were outnumbered, reported the media. In relation to the incident, Antero Lopes, UNMIT Acting Police Commissioner said he could not comment on it yet as the timing was not permitable. Alfredo Reinado was under trial detention in Becora prison. The media notes that former FALINTIL member Oan Kiak and the vice-commander of the PNTL for Dili District Abilio Mesquita did not escape. In the meantime Benevides Correira Barros, Reinado’s lawyer, blames the government for this incident. Another lawyer who refused to be named said the security of the prison was not strong enough making it vulnerable for prisoners to escape. SRSG Hasegawa, who visited the prison for over an hour following the escape, made no comment. Guards at the prison were questioned by the International Police soon after the prisoners’ escape. (TP, STL)
International Police Did Not Ask PNTL To Remove Uniform: Lancaster
The commander of International Police, Steve Lancaster (AFP Commander) said information stating that international police ordered a PNTL to strip off his uniform in public is incorrect. Lancaster explained that around 4:15 hrs, Timor-Leste time, International Police noticed a white vehicle with 4 doors with four people. He further said two persons sitting in the back were dressed in full PNTL uniform, and the Police immediately asked the vehicle to stop and told the members of PNTL that they were not yet allowed to wear their uniforms following the agreement between Timor-Leste and the international police. He added that PNTL themselves were breaking the agreement and stressed that PNTL officers should still not be functional nor be armed. Lancaster said the explanation to the Timorese police officers was made in Tetum, English and Indonesian languages but one PNTL officer became upset and refused to listen to the explanation and decided to strip off his uniform and handed it to the International Police who did not accept it adding that PNTL are entitled to wear the uniforms again once they passed the screening test. Lancaster further said that the presence of the International Forces is to support the re-establishment of PNTL and their security, adding that if an investigation is conducted that indicates that one of his members took the wrong action he will take a decision on the officials involved because the International Forces aim to work with the government to establish security. He added that he is prepared to explain the case in the National Parliament if the MPs wish him to do so.
Timor Post reported the Director of LABEH (Lalenok Ba Ema Hotu) Henry Samson as saying the agreement between Timor-Leste and Australia does not authorize PNTL to wear their uniforms while they’re inactive. Samson said the actions of the International Police were to implement the law, adding he disagrees that MPs should speak against it. He added that the Minister of Interior is partly to blame for not informing the public about the 80 police officers who were ordered to go out on the streets in uniforms. Samson suggests that PNTL remain in their headquarters until a proper and better reformation system is established in order to regain the trust of the population. (STL)
President Of The Parliament Express Gratitude to Malaysian troops
Francisco Lu’Olo Guterres, President of the National Parliament expressed his gratitude to the Malaysian troops who have contributed to stop the crisis in Timor-Leste. Guterres said although it still is difficult to totally recover peace, this is a job for the Timorese people to contribute to peace in their country, starting with the leaders. He said the Malaysians have stood alongside Timor-Leste to maintain stability together with other international forces. (STL, TP)
RTTL news headlines 30-08-2006
30 August is a historic and reflection day: Lu Olo
Speaker of the National Parliament, Francisco Guterres “Lu Olo” reportedly stated that 30 August is a historical and significant day for all Timorese when in 1999 all Timorese decided on the destiny of this country by voting for independence. Lu Olo further stated that it was also an important day to reflect on the suffering of the people and the causes of the current crisis.
NP deliberation project on PNTL case
Speaking on a different issue, meanwhile, Lu Olo told journalists that the national parliament would propose a deliberation project to the plenary session to discuss the case of disrobing of PNTL officers by the international police. Lu Olo reportedly complained that the act did not show professionalism. Speaking at a press conference, however, commander of the international police, Steve Lancester, reportedly rejected the claims saying that the incident took place due to misunderstanding and offered to clarify before the Council of Ministers.
PM Horta: Participation from all important to solve the current crisis
Speaking to journalists following a meeting with the Bishops of Baucau and Dili, the Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta said that the contribution of all, including political, government and religious leaders, is important to overcome the current crisis. The PM also called on the youths not to be manipulated for the interests of any political leaders.
Kuwaiti Government delivers 11 tonnes of medicines
The Government of Kuwait delivered eleven tonnes of medicines donated to Timor-Leste on 29 August as part of humanitarian assistance from Kuwait. The assistance was symbolically handed over by the Kuwaiti Ambassador in TL, Mohammed Thadil Khalaf to the Vice Minister for Health, Luis Lobato. Five units of ambulances and one mobile health unit will arrive soon from Kuwait.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA REPORTS
Breakout 'could destabilise E Timor'
August 31, 2006
THE mass breakout of 57 prisoners from a Dili jail was potentially destabilising for Timor, Justice and Customs Minister Chris Ellison said today.
Among those still at large is rebel leader and former military police commander Major Alfredo Reinado, who was in jail on charges of attempted murder and firearms offences. Senator Ellison said responsibility for security at the Dili jail belonged to the Timorese, but Australian Federal Police and soldiers stationed in Timor were helping with the search to recapture the prisoners. "Overnight no one has been apprehended, but a full-scale international search is now in progress," he told reporters in Darwin. Australia has 200 Federal police and 1300 ADF personnel in Timor. "We have every confidence in the Australian police and defence forces who will assist in the search for them, along with troops from New Zealand, Malaysia and Portugal also involved," Senator Ellison said. The minister said there was no doubt those who had broken out of jail had their sympathisers in the Timorese community. "A breakout on such a scale doesn't happen by accident, and that's a concern," he said. "The escape of prisoners such as Reinado is among our worries over the potential for this event to destabilise the country. Obviously, there will have to be a full inquiry under the terms of the new UN mandate on Timor." Last week, a new mandate gave control of law and order to the UN. In Darwin, Senator Ellison announced that helicopter surveillance of northern waters would be beefed up by establishing a permanent base for a helicopter at Gove. He said tenders had been called for a helicopter to operate out of the coastal region, responding quickly to sightings of illegal fishing boats or illegal immigrants. In the past 12 months there have been increased sightings of illegal fishing vessels in Australian waters off the far North East coast of Arnhem Land, with boats often avoiding detection by hiding in the mangrove swamps. Senator Ellison said the helicopter base was part of the measures announced in the 2006-07 Budget to tackle illegal fishing. "The helicopter will be able to respond quickly to landings by foreign fishing vessels on the Arnhem coast and around the Gulf of Carpentaria," he said. (The Australian)
Timor escapees 'walked out front gate'
August 31, 2006
VISITORS to the Dili jail caused a diversion which allowed 57 prisoners, including militiaman Major Alfredo Reinado, to escape through the front gate of the prison, Australia's top soldier in East Timor said.
Brigadier Michael Slater said yesterday's escape from the Becora Penitentiary occurred during visiting hours, about 4pm (AEST). "Reinado and about 56 others essentially walked out the front gate under the eyes of the Timorese prison guards," Brig Slater told ABC radio. "There was some kind of a ruckus caused by visitors and then the prisoners were enabled to walk out the front gate. "There was definitely some organisation to it, I don't know how well planned it had been and how detailed the organisation was." Brig Slater said he had information on where the men were. "I'm not prepared ... I can't sort of discuss the information on the radio." Reinado, who was blamed for some of the worst violence that took place in East Timor earlier this year, was jailed on charges of attempted murder and firearms offences. Several pro-Jakarta militiamen sentenced in connection with 1999 riots that left almost 1500 people dead also broke out of the jail. Brig Slater said the attention of peacekeeping forces was now on recapturing all the escapees. "The UN and the international police are working very hard to get as much information and leads as they can," he said. "We have sealed off the city, did that within about 15 minutes of the escape yesterday. "We will be making the assumption that they are armed, if we were to approach trying to capture them in any other way it would be negligent on our part." Brig Slater also expressed his frustration with the situation. "It's very disappointing, a lot of those prisoners, the international police have done extensive investigation to get them locked away and the prison service was one of the few functioning parts of the ministry of justice and they've been able to escape almost under their eyes," he said. Despite the escape, Brig Slater said the atmosphere in Dili last night was calm. "Interestingly, the situation in the city last night was one of the quietest and calmest nights that we've seen since we've been here over the last three months." Brig Slater said the jail the men escaped from was "properly constructed" and that the joint taskforce had undertaken more work on the building to improve security. (The Australian)
Police hunt escaped East Timor rebel leader
Last Updated 31/08/2006, 09:36:51
International forces in East Timor have set up roadblocks in the search for 57 prisoners who've broken out of Dili's jail, including one of the rebel leaders associated with recent violence in the country, Alfredo Reinado. Our reporter in Dili, Anne Barker, says Australian police are still investigating how so many prisoners could escape en masse in broad daylight. They say it is possible the inmates simply walked out the front door, during a disturbance or distraction. International police and soldiers immediately began a grid search of the entire suburb of Becora, and have established checkpoints set up at every exit out of the capital.
Attempted murder claims
Major Reinado was arrested with 20 other men in July over their role in the violence that erupted in and around Dili in April and May. He has been charged with several offences, including attempted murder and the embezzlement of military property. In late May, the rebel leader led a group of fellow military police into the mountains behind Dili, refusing to give up their weapons until the then prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, resigned from office. At least 21 people died during the violence in East Timor and 150,000 others were displaced. The unrest had its origins in the March sacking of about 600 soldiers, who had deserted their barracks complaining of discrimination. (ABC Radio)
NZ soldiers return home from East Timor
30 August 2006 Forty four New Zealand troops are due to return home from East Timor tonight.
The soldiers had been in East Timor since May when the Government responded to a call for help and an international force was deployed to restore peace to the troubled island. Violence left at least 21 dead after protests sparked by the dismissal of 600 soldiers ended up in factional fighting within the security forces. There was also civil violence in the capital Dili and about 150,000 people of the estimated one million populations were still living in makeshift camps. The 44 troops were due to return to Christchurch late tonight on an Air Force Boeing 757, leaving about 160 troops still in East Timor. Defence sources said it had yet to be decided how long the remainder would stay but it could be up to two years. The army said the soldiers had been cleaning equipment to strict Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries requirements before returning to New Zealand. An area of the port in the capital of Dili was set aside with buckets of soap and water and high pressure hoses to clean gear. The returning soldiers would also have medical checks to ensure they had no injuries or had not been exposed to malaria, dengue fever or other tropical diseases. Two army psychologists were in Dili to talk to returning soldiers about their time in East Timor, the army said. (www.stuff.co.nz)
UN Sending Police in Effort to Improve East Timor Security By Chad Bouchard - Jakarta 29 August 2006
As sporadic violence continues in the East Timorese capital of Dili, the country's leaders have vowed to improve security. Police and foreign peacekeeping troops have contained attacks between rival groups, but the peacekeepers are pulling out of the tiny nation. A new contingent of United Nations police is on the way to help. Gang members armed with rocks and knives clashed in Dili over the last week, leaving at least 10 houses burned and dozens of people wounded. East Timor Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta announced this week that street patrols in the capital would be increased. United Nations officials also plan to open six new police stations there. The situation in Dili has improved significantly since chaos between rival regional factions erupted last May. At least 20 people died then and 150,000 fled their homes. More than 3,000 international peacekeeping troops were called in to restore order. But low-level violence continues. On Friday, the U.N. Security Council approved a plan to send a new contingent of 1600 police to Dili next month. The plan passed in spite of disagreement over whether Australian troops already in the country would come under the command of the new U.N. police mission. Neil James of the Australia Defense Association, a security policy institute, says Australia's peacekeeping operation would be more effective as a military backup to the U.N. police. "And we're just not convinced in the peculiar circumstances of East Timor that a U.N. military force would add anything that can't be done by Australia and other regional countries," James said. Even as the U.N. gears up to send in the police, Canberra says it is accelerating the withdrawal of its troops from the country. Australia currently has about 1500 troops deployed there now, half the number originally sent to put down the violence in May. James says it will soon be time for all of Australia's troops to come home. "Well there will have to be a reduction in force at some stage. I mean, the security situation in East Timor won't always require the level of military support backing up the police that there is now," he noted. "There's just no incentive on East Timorese politicians to settle their differences if there's always someone looking over their shoulder, because essentially, this is an East Timorese political problem." Last week, Timorese President Xanana Gusmao suspended the emergency measures that were implemented in June to prevent further violence between rival factions. (VOA News)
Malaysia in Timor troop pullout
From correspondents in Dili
August 29, 2006 09:38pm Article from: Agence France-Presse
MALAYSIA will withdraw its 400 troops from East Timor this week ahead of the planned deployment of the United Nations force in the tiny troubled nation, its military commander said today.The Malaysian soldiers were part of a 3200-strong Australian-led peacekeeping force deployed after violence erupted in the impoverished nation in May that left at least 21 people dead. The troops would leave tomorrow, the head of the Malaysian military force in East Timor said at a ceremony here for the peacekeepers. “The 400 Malaysian troops here will return home, but there is the possibility they will return to support the United Nations police force,” Lieutenant General Sharon bin Haji Ibrahim said. Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Portugal sent troops to the tiny territory after fighting between different factions of the security forces broke out forcing thousands to flee their homes. New Zealand has said it will also withdraw a platoon as the security situation had improved. The withdrawals come after the UN Security Council approved a resolution for a new mission in the violence wracked country. The UN mission will assist with elections due early next year and aims to help strengthen the East Timorese police and justice system. It will provide up to 1,608 police personnel and up to 34 military liaison and staff officers. But the military component of the mission still has to be finalised because although many countries want a military force under UN command, Australia wants to retain control of a joint military force. (News.com.au)
NATIONAL NEWS SOURCES: Timor Post (TP) Radio Timor-Leste (RTL) Suara Timor Lorosae (STL) Diario Tempo (DT) Diario Nacional Seminario Lia Foun (LF) Televisaun Timor-Leste [TVTL]
These Items Do Not Reflect the Position or Views of the United Nations. UNOTIL Public Information Office